Circumstances turn out for the greater good?
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).
From the recent trials of Rodney’s accident to the struggle to regain health from one of my worst sinus infections, we took some time to catch up on chiropractor appointments and much needed rest. We also reminisced on past experiences like Christmas Eve night, 2018, when I headed downstairs only to have my foot slip out from under me and I rode the stairs down like Kevin from Home Alone. But Kevin had a sled and I did not! So, you can imagine hitting step after step and cries of distress loud enough to wake my sleeping husband filling the air! We were due to leave for the Creation Museum and The Ark Encounter with my brother and family two days later. I feared I would be missing the trip. However, with nothing broken, I was able to go accompanied by the worst bruising I have ever seen.
Another memory that hangs around from the last ten years, is when we transplanted to this part of North Carolina (December 2009). We moved to a townhouse in Hope Mills before relocating to Fayetteville (while Rodney worked on his Ed.D.), and now, of course, we are in our own home in the quaint town of Lillington. But while living in the townhouse, Rodney and I were out for a walk and I tripped on a twig and fell. The force of the fall caused such trauma I passed out, staying in bed for a couple of days. We found out later I suffered a concussion.
And in the middle of the past ten years, 2015 to be exact, which led me to become part of the blogging world on www.thescarlettroad.com, I was introduced to herniated discs, had to say goodbye to a wonderful teacher and friend who had battled cancer, and experienced the phone call no one ever wants to get: my father died. Each of these difficult circumstances came within a span of two months.
God’s love is not limited to my circumstances . . .
Quite honestly, for many years I relied on my circumstances to determine God’s love for me, personally never connecting the dots that in this world I will have tribulation. Because after all, when you think God has a wonderful plan for your life, surely it doesn’t include suffering?!
Somehow, we seem to avoid those passages and look for the ones that make us healthy and prosperous. We look for the easy passages of Scripture, and not the ones that tell us to love our enemies or pray for those who persecute us. The book of Philippians commands us not to be conceited but humbly put others first and view their interests as more important than our own (2:3-4). The wise sayings in the book of Proverbs teaches the foolishness of relying on man’s wisdom. And Proverbs 3:5 reminds me not to lean on my own understanding! There’s so much I will never be capable of understanding, and my finite mind can’t even manage to wrap around the fact that God has always existed and never had a beginning, or even the magnitude of our universe and the fact of more galaxies besides. What about, God is exceedingly bigger than all His creation? “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8), “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts . . .” (Philippians 4:8). Why would I ever think my narrow mind could understand the thoughts of God?!
I have a nephew who has spent over two years in jail with what seems to be “no earthly” help for him. Through the avenue of Facebook, I asked for prayer and about a dozen of my friends have committed to praying for him. Just like the church praying for Peter’s release, “Peter was kept in prison: but prayer [instant and earnest prayer] was made for him” (Acts 12:5), I asked for prayer on my nephew’s behalf. I certainly believe justice should be served, but I also believe that Jacque has more than served what he owes. And while we know that sin has corrupted all forms of government, it was likewise corrupt in Peter’s day. Peter didn’t have a defense attorney and was even scheduled for execution. What can be accomplished through the prayers of God’s people is commanded by God and many times proves to be miraculous, like Peter’s release.
I have a sister-in-law living with cancer. Her circumstances could seem overwhelming at times. But God hasn’t left her to walk this alone. He accompanies her every step of the way, as He does anyone that turns to Him in faith. He provides strength and courage to walk faithfully as pilgrims on a journey to the Land promised.
Until then, we are called to encourage weary pilgrims along the way.
“… strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22, NASB).
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
The Apostle Paul knew without a doubt that our circumstances are avenues to see God work for His glory! Who can you come along side and provide encouragement that will strengthen a weary pilgrim to faithfully continue with the assurance that circumstances turn out for the greater good?
“All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide? Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”–All the Way My Savior Leads Me, 1875, by Fanny Crosby